My Emergency Cleaning Plan

Whether you have little ones underfoot or teens that resemble mini-cyclones, cleaning house can be not unlike shoveling the walk while it's still snowing. And that means it's easy to get behind on the housework.  

Whatever the reason, whether company's coming or you just need to get your home back into functioning order again, you need a plan that will transform your house from shocking to sparkling.

#1 - Get Some Laundry Going

The first thing thing I do is get the washing machine running. I sort everything into whites, colors, linens and jeans.  

(Just an fyi, I wash colors in cold, jeans in warm water, linens and whites in hot with some oxyclean. I always hand wash delicate lingerie and always hang them dry. When it comes to brazzieres, heat is death to them, so I ALWAYS wash them in cold and I NEVER put them in the dryer as it ruins the elastic.) 

Set a timer for when you think each wash load will be done. This will help you keep the laundry going until it's finished, or at least out of the way and managed.

#2 - Get The Kitchen in Order

Now that you've got your laundry servants (washing and drying machines) humming away in the laundry room, move on to the kitchen. 
  1. If you have a dishwasher, load and run it.
  2. Get any crusty dishes soaking.
  3. Lay out a strainer and dish towel and quickly wash and rinse the "unloadable" dishes under hot running water. By the time you're finished with those, the crusty ones should be soft enough to clean.
  4. Spray down all kitchen surfaces (white vinegar & water) and wipe clean with paper toweling. (Counters come in contact with food, so using a vinegar/water spray is very nontoxic and food safe.) Mrs. Meyer's countertop spray is another safe choice and works excellently.
  5. Spray and wipe out the sink area to a shine. 
  6. Straighten up your countertops and any kitchen decor. 
  7. Give the floor a quick sweep.  Done!
#3 - Bathroom Quick-Clean

Bathrooms need to be as fresh and clean as possible.  They are the one room where guests appreciate utter cleanliness (second only to the kitchen).  Isn't a sparkling clean bathroom so very nice to enter and use?
  1. Put some baking soda and vinegar (or other cleaner) in the toilet bowl. Scrub and flush. Hold down the flush handle while gently plunging the toilet brush in the swirling water to clean it.  
  2. Spray a disinfectant cleaner (or even just some windex) all over toilet bowl, lids and seat and wipe with paper toweling in this order: top of the lid, under the lid, seat, under the seat, rim, bowl and base. Keep folding the paper towel as you go so you don't spread any mess and bacteria.
  3. Remove items and spray down counters, sinks and faucets. Wipe to a shine. These are the "jewelry" of the room so make them sparkle.
  4. Give any spots on the mirror a quick spray and wipe.
  5. If the main/guest bathroom also has a bathtub in it, here's how to give it a quick "face lift": dampen an old hand towel (or the one that is currently hanging if it's not too fancy) and just wipe out the bath tub with it. Don't forget the "rim" of the tub. Then toss that towel in the laundry hamper to be later washed (in HOT water).  :-)
  6. Put away and clear any clutter from your bathroom surfaces. A basket/tub/container under the sink is a handy thing to have.
  7. Toss all used towels into the hamper and put out fresh, fluffy ones. Don't forget a fresh hand towel!
  8. Grab a broom and sweep the floor. Don't skip this step especially if your floor shows dirt easily. When a guest is, (ahem) in a seated position, the floor is a primary focal point. And bathroom floors are so small that this little step takes only a minute but makes a big impact.
  9. Light a scented candle if you expect company (in a safe spot away from any flammables) for a nice welcoming touch.
#4 - The Rest of the House
  1. Entry ways are the first thing people see when they enter your home. That includes your husband when he comes home at night from work. So gather toys, keys, purse, coats, shoes, and so forth and put them away.  
  2. If you have a lot of clutter, use an empty box or laundry basket and go from room to room gathering everything that is out of place.
  3. Store that box/basket out of sight for later when you have time for putting things away in their proper places. 
  4. Next, grab your feather duster and run it along all main surfaces. Stick to the most visible areas. This is emergency quick cleaning, remember? 
  5. Next grab a broom and do a quick sweep of the main flooring areas. If you have time, vacuum the carpets and rugs. Otherwise, just scan the rugs/carpets for any little debris that "stands out" to the naked eye and quickly pick them up
  6. Next stand still and look around for anything that needs a little sprucing up (a crooked throw rug, tilted wall hanging, messed up throw pillows, etc).
  7. Last but not least, take a minute to freshen yourself and the children. Kids can wash their faces, comb their hair and put on a clean shirt if needed (older kids can help the younger) and tidy their rooms while you freshen up. If time permits, scrub your face! Dead skin cells make for a dull, dreary complexion. You'd be amazed at how bright and cheery your complexion will look with this spruce up. Dust on a little mineral powder, blush and mascara and freshen your hair. Put on a fresh outfit if needed. Turn on some soft music. I recommend putting a playlist together of relaxing instrumental music. It's a nice touch when having company so there isn't "dead air" during conversation lulls.
Now sit down and relax because you are all done!
It doesn't have to take long to freshen the main living areas of your house when you have a plan. Practice a few times just for your husband. Teach your children to help. Then if you ever need to put the plan in action for last minute company, it will run quite smoothly.

Things To Remember 

Perfection is never the goal - just "fresh, tidy and welcoming".  A woman's home is really just a "briefcase" of tools for serving and caring for others.  And it's easier to use those tools when they're fresh and ready.

The following edited for clarity:

The area most often overlooked in a woman's housekeeping is being considerate of her husband. Women in unhappy marriages are the first to mock the notion of a wife respecting and taking care of her husband. But caring for him is simply meeting his needs in the same way that you would like your needs met. Be considerate of him and seek to make your home a castle he can be proud of. 

Whether you're expecting company on a moments notice, or just want to bless your husband with peace and order before he gets home from work, I hope this plan helps you get the job done.

For tips on keeping your home cleaned on a regular basis, see my article A Clean House.


Anonymous said…
This is a great list!!

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